The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize was announced on Monday 23rd July. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK and Ireland. This is the first year that novels published in Ireland have been accepted.
This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: by the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.
The list was chosen from 171 submissions – the highest number of titles put forward in the prize’s 50 year history – published between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.
The 2018 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’:
Snap by Belinda Bauer (UK) (Bantam Press)
Jack’s mother leaves him in charge of his sisters in a broken-down car to go off and find help but she doesn’t return. Three years on, Jack is supporting his sisters and making sure no one knows they’re alone in the house. And then he finds out what happened to his mother…
Bauer writes in an engaging style, portraying the children with accuracy and emotion, and has created a brilliant crime novel.
Milkman by Anna Burns (UK) (Faber & Faber)
In a city where it is dangerous to stand out, Middle Sister is busy keeping her meeting with the Milkman a secret. As she is sniffed out and rumours circle, she is noticed. Milkman is an extraordinary tale of gossip and silence.
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (USA) (Granta Books)
Sabrina is an exciting graphic novel about anxiety, fringe paranoia and mainstream misinformation. It forces the reader to reflect on how we live now: what happens when somebody’s traumatic experience becomes everyone else’s gossip.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Canada) (Serpent’s Tail)
An eleven-year-old slave from a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black follows the promise of freedom across the world – from cane fields in Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco. A moving tale inspired by a true story.
In Our Mad And Furious City by Guy Gunaratne (UK) (Tinder Press)
An incredible story about three friends growing up on Stones estate in London. When riots break out and people killed, the friends are caught up in the middle. Raw, challenging and a refreshing perspective on the trials and tribulations of a London upbringing.
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson (UK) (Jonathan Cape)
When a hospital phone call disrupts Greta’s isolated lifestyle, she begins to remember the language of her forgotten childhood: years spent on a river, a lonely boy who came to stay and a creature in the water. A debut novel that reinvents classical myth. An unsettling story of identity, language, love and belonging.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (USA) (Jonathan Cape)
Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility and has a seven-year-old son living with her estranged mother. Her new environment is a harsh and intriguing reality: thousands hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive, the absurdities of institutional living, daily acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike. Her future looks desolate until news from the outside changes everything.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
The story of Grace, Lia and Sky who are kept apart from the world for their own good. And it is the story of the men who come for them – from the sea, trailing desire and destruction in their wake. An intelligent and engrossing tale for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (Canada) (Jonathan Cape)
It’s 1945 in London and two siblings, Nathaniel and Rachel, are abandoned by their parents, left in the care of ‘The Moth’ and a band of criminal misfits. Years later, Nathaniel attempts to piece together his childhood and startling truths of puzzles formed decades earlier.
The Overstory by Richard Powers (USA) (William Heinemann)
There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. The Overstory tells the tale of nn Air Force loadmaster shot out of the sky, an artist who inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, a hard-partying undergraduate who electrocutes herself and a hearing- and speech-impaired scientist who discovers that trees are communicating with one another. A masterpiece about how we see the world and an unfolding catastrophe.
The Long Take by Robin Robertson (UK) (Picador)
A noir narrative about a D-Day veteran with PTSD looking for freedom and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, he witnesses America come apart. The story of a good man, brutalised by war, who is determined to find kindness again. An intense and poetic piece of writing.
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Ireland) (Faber & Faber)
An exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege.
From A Low And Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Ireland) (Doubleday Ireland)
A story of three men search for something lost: Farouk, a honourably family man, from war-torn Syria, Lampy, distracted and closeted from a small town in Ireland, and John, a man who has treated life as a game but haunted by the past and familial relationships. Three men whose lives move towards a reckoning that will draw them all together.
The Man Booker shortlist of six books will be announced on Thursday 20 September, which gives any ambitious readers less than two months to make their way through the longlist. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 16 October in a ceremony broadcast by the BBC.